On the economics of energy consumption in 4G networks: the case of Spain
Reducing energy consumption is one of the main challenges in most countries. For example, European Member States agreed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% in 2020 compared to 1990 levels (EC 2008). Considering each sector separately, ICTs account nowadays for 2% of total carbon emissions. This percentage will increase as the demand of communication services and applications steps up. At the same time, the expected evolution of ICT-based developments - smart buildings, smart grids and smart transportation systems among others - could result in the creation of energy-saving opportunities leading to global emission reductions (Labouze et al. 2008), although the amount of these savings is under debate (Falch 2010). The main development required in telecommunication networks ?one of the three major blocks of energy consumption in ICTs together with data centers and consumer equipment (Sutherland 2009) ? is the evolution of existing infrastructures into ultra-broadband networks, the so-called Next Generation Networks (NGN). Fourth generation (4G) mobile communications are the technology of choice to complete -or supplement- the ubiquitous deployment of NGN. The risk and opportunities involved in NGN roll-out are currently in the forefront of the economic and policy debate. However, the issue of which is the role of energy consumption in 4G networks seems absent, despite the fact that the economic impact of energy consumption arises as a key element in the cost analysis of this type of networks. Precisely, the aim of this research is to provide deeper insight on the energy consumption involved in the usage of a 4G network, its relationship with network main design features, and the general economic impact this would have in the capital and operational expenditures related with network deployment and usage.